Why Do Most Young Malaysians These Days Choose Not To Have Kids?

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Studio shot of young woman working in office covered with adhesive notes
[Source: Keypersonofinfluence]

She’s Single And Busy With Her Career

B is an attractive woman in her late 30s with a successful job and a steady income. Unfortunately, as her family enjoy reminding her, she is single and on top of that, too busy to pursue a romantic life.

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” B confided. “I’m way past prime childbearing age and by the time I settle down, I think I’ll be too old to have kids.”

Childbearing age? I wanted to scoff at the thought, but she had a point – it would be difficult to raise a child into your fifties and sixties.

“I don’t even have the time to have a social life,” she sighed. “Where am I supposed to meet a partner nowadays?”

He Planned to Get a Vasectomy, But The Doctors Rejected Him

“Children? For what?” Z, a man in his early thirties, exclaimed. “In this economy?” He told me about his plans to get a vasectomy for the safety of his mind, seeing it as “insurance” against any unwanted children.

However, he mentioned that he had been having problems proceeding with the vasectomy as doctors were reluctant to approve the procedure.

Vasectomy cross-section
[Source: Worldhealthorganisation]

I asked him about it.

“They said I might change my mind,” he told me exasperatedly. “Especially since I don’t have at least two kids.”

I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

“That’s an actual thing they’ve told me,” he said glumly.

I thought that was a thing only women would face, but apparently men face it too.

“They won’t do the vasectomy even if I threw money at them – and it’s clearly not money that’s the issue.”

Although fascinated by the turn the conversation had taken, I steered the subject back to children.

“Who can actually afford to have kids now?” Z groaned. He told me about his research and how the most conservative estimate of raising a child to the age of 18 is RM 400, 000. “I doubt I will see that much money in my working life until retirement.”

He said this with a helpless shrug from his lean shoulders.

He also cites his introversion as a reason. “I value quiet and solitude. No way will I have the patience to deal with an irrational and loud little human.”

However, he did add that he does have the option to adopt, provided his hypothetical spouse is open to it as it will be a joint decision.

Her Unstable Mental Health Is Unsuitable for Parenthood

S is a 28 year old woman who also said no to kids. “I’m too mentally unstable,” she said. Mental health is definitely a factor to consider as much as physical health, when it comes to childbirth, considering the issue of postpartum depression and other hormonal problems.

“I like kids, but I don’t think it’s a wise choice for me to have them,” she said simply.

She related a story to me about how she has depression and how it is difficult for her to care for her pet when she is in a depressive state.

She even becomes resentful of his neediness for her. Once she is stable again, she loves him as hard as she can. Eventually, the cycle repeats itself.

“Imagine that, but with kids,” she said wryly.

He Believes Having Children Is Environmentally Unsustainable

A is a 27 year old environmental activist who cites sustainability as a reason for him choosing to be child free. “You shouldn’t be able to say you want to have kids anymore… Humans have fucked the world up, man.”

He states that he firmly believes that not having children is a duty, the opposite of what the traditional belief is.

“It comes down to this: do we deserve to propagate? It simply boils down to responsibility and we have proven we are not able to be responsible.”

He insists that humans should be euthanised for their crimes, not just against humanity, but also against Mother Earth. He believes that the planet will eventually recover and another species will rise to take our place.

He thinks we should leave behind information for whatever species becomes sentient next. “We killed ourselves off, so this is why you shouldn’t follow our example.”

[Graph: Having One Fewer Child Will Save 58.6 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Per Year. Source: The Guardian]

R is a bisexual woman in her late twenties who agrees the climate crisis has definitely affected her decision as well.

“I believe that with the climate emergency, food is going to become more scarce, less nutritious and more expensive. That would be hell on earth,” she said.

I asked her to explain what she means.

“Look at the unusual weather patterns globally. Harvests have been suffering due to this. As it continues, we’re not going to be able to reach the production needed to sustain our population. I don’t think overpopulation is the problem – it’s really distribution. That’s just going to be a bigger problem as time goes on.”

Z, the man from earlier, also had a broader argument for going child free: Overpopulation.

“There is no doubt that we as a species can slow down with the whole breeding thing. At least for [a few] generations. I would rather not add to that overabundance. I am not a nihilist or anti-natalist per se, but we should focus on quality of individuals over quantity when and if we decide to make more humans.”

She’s LGBT, And She Can’t Adopt A Child

Besides the environmentalism is the issue of R’s sexuality. “Seeing the political blowback against having marriage equality here, I doubt we will even have a system in place for same sex couples to ever adopt. So for many of the LGBTQ+ community, that’s our reality – that we can’t have children and we don’t have a system for us to have children. We don’t have a choice.”

She concedes that some trans people can have children in same sex relationships and that surrogate parenthood can be a choice, but she explains that the latter is a tedious matter.

She Doesn’t Want The Responsibility

“I just don’t want them,” K, a 21 year old woman, said flatly. “I don’t have any maternal instincts and I don’t want to have to care for another human being when I can barely look after myself.”

She chuckled a little at this last bit. K clearly has a dark sense of humour.

“It’s the responsibility,” she explained. She thought for a while and amended her statement to exclude adoption. “I wouldn’t mind adopting a kid, maybe an older teen.”

In Conclusion

Speaking to people, what I see is this: More and more Malaysians are opting out of having children.

It paints a bleak picture for the future as young Malaysians become disillusioned by prospects of financial growth versus economic recessions and the mounting pressures of global warming.

What do you think? Would you have kids? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook!


For more articles on having kids, read We Asked Men in Their 30s, 40s, and 50s: What’s It Like Being a Father? and These Malaysians May Not Want Children – Here Are Their Reasons Why.

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